Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Free Ashraf Abu Rahma!

My friend Ashraf was arrested after the Bil'in demonstration last month, and he's still in prison :(

The last time I saw Ashraf, he was walking towards two Israeli army jeeps waving a Palestinian flag, and the next thing we knew he was in the back of one of the jeeps. A group of internationals went up to the soldiers to ask them why hw was taken. The soldiers told us they would release him, but then they drove off with Ashraf and he's been in administrative detention ever since.

They said he was throwing stones. Two soldiers lied and now they get to lock him up for as long as they want, and his lawyer has to defend him by saying, "no, he wasn't throwing stones." Really?

Here's the video his cousin Hamde made for him:

...and here are two of Ashraf's stories, from 2005 and 2009:

In 2005, the residents of Bilin built three houses next to an illegal Israeli settlement on Bilin's land, trying to prevent the colony from expanding. For three years, Ashraf spent every single night in one of these houses to safeguard it from destruction. However, the settlers were set on expansion, and they set fire to fields and trees in order to uproot Bilin’s agricultural land.

I woke up at nine in the morning, immediately catching sight of a colossal crane. It was clear to me that they were starting to build more houses to expand the colony. I immediately felt that I should take action, but the settlers prevented me from approaching the crane. Desperately I called out to the other villagers of Bilin. I stayed alone for a little while, not managing to get any closer to the construction site. I wondered what to do and felt hard-pressed. The villagers had alerted the press, which quickly came to the scene. Immediately, the colonizers shifted their attention towards Al Jazeera, because they wanted to fend off the cameras. They were no longer paying attention to my presence, and I immediately made the most of my opportunities. In less than ten minutes I managed to climb high onto the crane. The Israeli police interfered, commanding me to come down. Why would I obey them? They are the enemy, supporting the colonizers theft, instead of criminalizing them. I stayed up on the crane for six hours. When I finally came down, I got arrested. I spent two weeks in jail and had to pay 8000 NIS bail to be released. They tried to force me into stating that the land belongs to the government, if not they would detain me again. My jail time continued with one week of house arrest. To this day, there are ongoing legal proceedings from the company of the crane. They try to charge me 6000 dollars, 1000 per hour I prevented the construction. During the court hearing they dared ask me why I was there! Because this is my land, of course! After my release I returned to the house next to the colony and put a Palestinian flag on the roof. The army tried to force me to replace the flag with an Israeli one. And when I refused? They captured me in the middle of the night and left me laying out on the fields for three hours. However, during the court case, the army denies ever having taken me.

In July of 2009, the village of Nilin was under closure for four days. Ashraf tried to enter the village with another Palestinian, local press, and a group of Israeli's and internationals to join the people of Nilin for a protest march.

Even before we reached the village, the army threw teargas canisters at us. Immediately afterwards, the army arrested the entire group. When we reached Nilin's checkpoint, everybody was released except for me and the other Palestinian. They blindfolded and cuffed me. My friend was released, so I was the only person that remained arrested. The soldiers were numerous, about fifteen. While I was led on defenselessly by these soldiers, the captain ordered them to shoot me in the leg. I had no idea what was going on. I was terribly confused. I did not even know where I was. Why did they shoot me!? I did not do anything! Why did they release everybody from our group except for me? After one week I saw the video and realized what really had happened. A young girl living near the checkpoint had filmed the event. As soon as I saw the video, things were very plain to me: I was shot without any reason whatsoever, or just for the random pleasure of the army platoon.
I decided to take this incident up to the Israeli High Court. The footage of this event is very threatening for the Israeli army, especially since they media has taken it up and it has spread over the Internet. Because of this, they raided the girl’s house, last month, December 2009, in search of the original copy. The Israeli Occupation Forces left the house trashed and detained her father for two months. When he did not come up with the desired answer, they questioned and arrested her three brothers. As a final means, they tried offering her family money in return for the original copy of the film. It is entirely clear that they only care about the film, instead of the people that are hurt or killed. This is not enough for me, nor is it for any other Palestinian.

The court case is ongoing to this point.

For more information on administrative detentions in the West Bank, check out the Israeli human rights organization Btselem.

And here's a call to action from the Free Ashraf Abu Rahma Facebook page...

You can copy this letter and send to the following addresses...

Your Excellency,

I am compelled to write to you to express my strong concerns regarding the case of Ashraf Abu Rahmah, a Palestinian young man, who is once again in administrative detention in an Israeli prison. I am writing to urge you to immediately suspend the administrative detention order of ASHRAF ABU RAHMAH.
Israeli soldiers detained Ashraf Abu Rahmah on Oct. 21 at a weekly protest in Bilin. The demonstrations are held to protest Israel’s construction of a separation wall through Bilin which confiscates villagers’ land, on which a Jewish-only settlement has been built. Abu Rahmah is charged with participating in an unauthorized procession and throwing stones, based on testimonies by two soldiers who claimed to have seen him from 150 meters, the committee says. An employee of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and a lawyer, both present at Friday’s protest, testified in court that Abu Rahmah did not throw any stone. Israel’s Ofer military court indefinitely extended Abu Rahmah’s detention until the end of legal procedures, the committee said.
Bilin has been holding non-violent anti-wall demonstrations since 2005, and the village is known for its creative approach to protests.
Since his arrest in October 2011, no evidence has been brought forth against Abu Rahmah, because although Israeli administrative detention orders are the subject of review and further appeal by a military court, neither lawyers nor detainees are permitted to see the “secret information” used as a basis for the detention orders. This violates international human rights law, which permits some limited use of administrative detention in emergency situations, but requires that the authorities follow basic rules for detention, including a fair hearing at which the detainee can challenge the reasons for his or her detention.
1 These minimum rules of due process have been clearly violated in Abu Rahmah’s case, leaving him without any legitimate means to defend himself.

1 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Art. 9.
2 Fourth Geneva Convention, Art. 78.

In addition to contradicting international human rights and humanitarian law, Abu Rahmah’s administration detention also violates article 5 (the right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The European Parliament itself has already called on Israel “to guarantee that minimum standards on detention be respected, to bring to trial all detainees, to put an end to the use of ‘administrative detention orders’” in its resolution of 4 September 2008.
Furthermore, I would like to recall the EU and Israel’s obligations under article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which calls for the EU-Israeli relationship to be guided by respect “for human rights and democratic principles”.
It is in this context that I call on you to act through the European Parliament to hold Israel accountable for its actions by demanding that Israel:

. Immediately and unconditionally release Ashraf Abu Rahmah;
. Immediately put an end to its practice of administrative detention and arbitrary arrests;

Please be assured that the international community is watching this case very closely.


Please FAX to EU Court of Human Rights (which does not accept emails):
+ 33 (0)3 88 41 27 30
Please EMAIL to the below:
A directory of members of the European Parliament can be found here:;jsessionid=45E7355AB5D96FFD0DA60BA4AE91E4F2.node2?language=EN,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,